Here’s a little list of gifts artists will actually love.
The list isn’t comprehensive by any means – in fact it’s quite brief considering how long it could be – but these are a few personal favorites which I think are important and was led to by talking to other artists, learning what their favorite art supplies and tools are, and many years of trial and error on my own.
So take a look below and hopefully find something for that hard to shop for artist or artists in your life (Or something for yourself):
(Some of these links below are monetized and I receive a small percentage of the sale if you decide to purchase something.)
Sketchbooks & Journals:
Maruman MNEMOSYNE Notebook – My personal favorite journaling notebook. This larged-sized notebook has incredibly smooth paper and is just an extremely nice notebook to record anything. It’s the best one I’ve come across and I journal in mine daily.
Moleskine Large Size Sketchbook – An unequaled sketchbook that has been hard to come by for the last few years. Smooth paper that is thick enough and sturdy enough for a wide variety of media, but the truly special distinction of Moleskine’s sketchbooks are how wonderfully the paper accepts graphite. The sturdy construction means you’re able to draw anywhere.
(Pro-tip: If you paint in your sketchbooks, use heavy duty binder clips to close the sketchbook. It will keep the pages pretty flat! But be careful not to smudge undried acrylic or oil paints.)
Mitsubishi Hi-Uni Pencil Set – The Bugattis of pencils. These are better than any others. I use them personally and have never come across a better set of pencils.
Staedtler 925 95 – At nearly $300, the Staedtler 925 95 is the Holy Grail of mechanical pencils. It is the best mechanical pencil ever made and was discontinued because it was too well made (Seriously). You can only find them on eBay these days, but if you have the money and want something truly special, these are worth it.
(Please note – This mechanical pencil is so sought after that there are often imitations being sold. Currently there is only one available on eBay. They show up from time to time. Also please note that this is the “925 95.” There are also 35s and 25s; which are somewhat good.)
Platinum Pro-Use 171 Matte Black – An acceptable (and affordable) replacement for the Staedtler 925 95. Extremely well made and a well-weighted mechanical pencil. It also has a tip protector – which the 925 95 lacks.
Fabriano Artistico Extra White Watercolor Paper 22” x 30” 140 lb or 300 lb Hot Press – Professional paper for a multitude of mediums. By far the best paper I’ve ever come across.
(“What are you talking about? Arches paper is the best!” – Look, Arches paper is great and I’ve used it plenty of times before, but the moment I started using Fabriano – I never looked back. It is the far superior paper in my opinion.)
Canvas & Stretcher Bars
Artel – I suggest cotton canvas from Artel – An affordable company based out of Belgium that makes truly excellent canvases. Their metal stretcher bars are by far the best stretcher bars I’ve ever had the pleasure of using.
If you use them or know an artist who needs some, wood panels should be custom built and there’s no one better out there at making them than Craig Hejka at Hejka Studios based in Detroit, Michigan. Craig’s craftsmanship and knowledge is unmatched and exceptional. Seriously: The. Best. You’ll need to contact him directly about having them made, but he has a nice contact form on his website.
Golden Heavy Body Artist Acrylic Paints – These are the best acrylic paints out there. I’m not sure why you would use any other brand other than price. They offer acrylic sets and up to multiple gallons of specific colors. Have fun!
Well, this one is a hard one. There is such a wide range in discrepancies of color and quality between brands and within brands that it’s hard to narrow it down to just a few items or a set of oil paints.
That being said, every artist who uses oil paints probably needs more white paint for mixing colors. Here are a few of my favorite titanium whites:
Holbein Titanium White – If you’re unable to locate a lead based white from the olden days, this is a pretty good match. (Don’t actually seek out a lead based paint please – They were really amazing, though and this is just sorta an artist joke). This is a fantastic titanium white.
Grumbacher Titanium White – A more than suitable white for oil painting. Probably the best? I don’t know. I use this one and Holbein’s.
Winsor & Newton Titanium White – Another, more than suitable, titanium white.
Please note if buying for someone else: ARTISTS ARE INCREDIBLY PICKY ABOUT THEIR PAINTS. Please ask your artist what brand they prefer before buying them any paint.
Qualita Golden Taklon Brushes – You won’t believe it, but these brushes by Qualita are spectacular! Not only that, but they won’t bust the bank.
Silicoil Brush Cleaning Tank – Every artist needs a few!
Richeson Nesting Porcelain Palette Sets – Great for paint mediums .
Stainless Steel Brush Stand – I use this for holding brushes (Wash your brushes by hand).
Note: I am lucky enough to have built my own easel to my own specifications. These easels have not been tested by me.
The Santa Fe II – This looks to be a fantastic professional easel.
Richeson Italian Field Easel – I hear this is a truly excellent field easel.
Blick Heavy Duty H-Frame Easel – This looks like an excellent beginner’s easel with everything you might need; plus it seems professional and that is great motivation to work more.
The War of Art – A phenomenal book that can help you understand why art is so difficult and why it must be, at all costs, pursued.
David & Goliath – Sometimes what we think are obstacles are actually extremely valuable tools for overcoming adversity. A fascinating read.
I Will Teach You To Be Rich – Being an artist is incredibly expensive. Learn about finances and set things up so that you can continue making art for a very long time.
Barbarian Days – Sometimes you just gotta go surfing.
Retractable Utility Knife – I have at least 5 of these and still don’t have enough. I prefer Milwaukees, but as of writing this Amazon is out of stock.
Wooden Drawer Storage Box – Invaluable and stackable!
Dewalt Cordless Circular Saw – If I didn’t have a circular saw, there would be endless times I wished I had one. A truly excellent gift for any artist – seriously.
Empire Framing Square – A remarkably valuable studio tool. Will be used countless times and will last forever.
Did I miss something or get something completely wrong? Let me know! firstname.lastname@example.org!